Defining "Resilient Design"

The word "resilience" suffers from a vagueness of meaning shared with words like "green" and "sustainability", writes Michael Mehaffy, who sets out to clarify this meaningful term for architecture and planning.
April 11, 2011, 10am PDT | Tim Halbur
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Mehaffy writes:

"So what is meant by the term "resilience?" It's usually defined as the ability of a system to absorb disruptions without tipping over to a new kind of order - one that can be disastrous for the organisms involved."

Mehaffy discusses the difference between "engineered resilience" - the kind constructed by humans - and "ecological resistance," which is often much more able to withstand complex catastrophes.

"As an example, we can look at the Fukushima nuclear reactors. They were masterfully designed to produce reliable, clean, safe energy for many years. That system was, in its own self-specified terms, resilient. As long as the conditions for which the system was designed were maintained, all was well.

But the trouble was, the system did not exist in a vacuum - it was embedded in a much larger set of natural systems."

Thanks to Robert Steuteville

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Published on Monday, April 11, 2011 in New Urban Network
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